From moral lessons to the many realizations that they bring, stories are really entertaining and powerful way to make us rethink life as we may have already know it.
Here's a short story that anonymously originated in Thailand about a homeless man and the Buddha. But instead of writing my own thoughts and realizations on this one, I'll let you have them on your own this time.
There was a homeless young man who had been trying to gather food but kept noticing that everyday his food disappears.
Until one day, he finally found the reason. He caught a mouse that kept stealing his food! But he felt more confused than mad. “Why are you stealing from me? I am just a homeless man. Why not steal from rich people instead? I'm sure it won't affect them.”, asked the beggar.
The mouse answered, “Maybe it's in your destiny that you can only have eight items in your possession. No matter how much you beg, no matter how much you gather, this is all you'll be able to have.”
The homeless man was shocked and said, “and why is that my destiny?”
The mouse replied, “I don't know. Maybe you should try asking the Buddha.”
So the homeless man went on his journey to find the Buddha. On the third day, he was really tired and starving. He was about to give-up when he saw a house from a distance. He ended up at a wealthy family's house and asked them if he could stay for a night. They let him in and asked, “Why are you traveling so late?”
The young man replied, “I have a question for the Buddha, and tomorrow I'll continue on my way.”
The father of the family then said, “We don't want to take advantage, but if it's not too much to ask for, can we give you a question to ask the Buddha as well?”
“Sure. What is it that you want to me to ask for you?”
“We have an eighteen year old daughter who can't speak. We just want to ask, 'What do we have to do to make her speak?'”
The homeless man agreed and thanked them for the shelter, “Of course, I'll ask this question for you.”
The next morning he left and continued on his journey. The wealthy family even gave him food to eat for his journey. After hours of walking, he saw a sea of mountains that he had to cross. He climbed up one mountain where he met a wizard. The wizard decided to use his magical staff to take the young man and flew them across the sea of mountains. The wizard asked the young man, “Where are you going? Why are you deciding to cross these mountains?”
The young man replied, “I'm going to ask the Buddha a question about my destiny”. Amazed by the young man's courage, the wizard then told him, “Can I please give a you a question to ask the Buddha? I've been trying to go to heaven for a thousand years already. According to my own teachings, I should be able to go to heaven now. So can you please ask the Buddha what do I have to do to get to heaven?”
“Of course, I'll ask this question for you.”, said the beggar. Finally, on the fifth day, he ran into his last obstacle - a river that no man can cross.
As faith would have it, he met a giant turtle, who decided to take him across the river. As they're crossing the river, the turtle asked, “Where are you going?”
The young man replied, “I'm going to see the Buddha and ask a question about my destiny.”
The turtle then said, “Oh, can you please ask a question for me too?”
“You see, I've been trying to become a dragon for more than 100 years now. According to my teachings, I should have become a dragon by now. Would you please ask the Buddha, 'what do I have to do to become a dragon?”
The young man thanked the turtle for taking him across the river and said, “Of course, I'll ask your question for you.”
The homeless man finally met the Buddha. However, he was saddened by what he heard. “I will answer three questions for everybody here. But only three questions.” The young man was in disbelief, for he has four questions to ask.
So he thought carefully.
He thought about the turtle who has been living for a hundred years trying to become a dragon, the wizard who has been living for a thousand years trying to get to heaven, and the girl who has never spoke a single word her whole life.
Then he looked at himself and said, “I may just be homeless beggar now, but I can just go back home and start working harder to change my faith somehow. So as he looked at everyone else's problems, he realized that his problem suddenly seemed so small. He felt sorry for the turtle, the wizard and the lady.
So he decided to ask all of their questions.
The Buddha answered:
“The turtle is unwilling to leave his shell. As long as he's unwilling to leave the comfort of his shell, he will never become a dragon.”
“The wizard always carries his staff and never puts it down. It acts as an anchor, keeping him from heaven.”
“And as for the girl, she'll be able to speak when she meets her soulmate.”
The homeless man bowed to the Buddha and went on his journey back home. When he was reunited wit the giant turtle, he happily shared the answer to his question, “Hey, you just have to take off your shell and you'll become a dragon!”
The turtle then took off his shell. Inside his shell were priceless pearls found in the deepest parts of the ocean. He gave them to the young man and told him, “Thank you. I no longer need these for I am now a dragon!”, and flew away.
On the mountains, the homeless man saw the wizard again and said, “You just have to put down your staff and you'll be able to go to heaven.”
The wizard let go of his staff by giving it to the young man and said, “Thank you.” as he ascended to heaven. The you man now has the wealth from the turtle and the power from the wizard.
Finally, he went back to the family that gave him shelter. He told them what the Buddha said, “Your daughter will be able to speak when she meets her soulmate.”
And at that moment, the daughter came downstairs and to everyone's surprise said, “Is that the man that was here last week?”
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